Beets tamil Brahmin style

20141120_182728Simple, elegant, tasteful, this way of doing your beets is bound to have you hooked.

2 cups steamed, peeled and cubed beets Spice Mix
1 green chili slit lengthwise
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
½ tsp coconut oil
1 tsp urad dal
Salt to taste
Pinch hing

Method

• Wash beets. Steam whole beets using a steamer basket
• Remove from pan. . Allow to cool and then peel. This is the easiest way to tackle beets without getting your hands all deep red
20141120_180858• Cut into cubes and set aside
• Meanwhile in pan, heat oil
• Add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add urad dal, curry leaves, and green chili
20141120_181401• Toss in the steamed, cubed beets so they are coated with the spice mix
• Add salt and remove from fire.

Do try my way of cooking and eating beets? Do let me know if you like them this way.. I paired beets with the cold medicine soup, rice and some papad.

–charuyoga–

Cumin pepper cold medicine soup

20141120_182721O dear, My boss isn’t well. I haven’t been well. A friend mentioned he’s been under the weather for a while. Cold season blues can really affect our bodies!

When I feel this way-runny eyes, sore throat, I long for my grandmother’s soup. Lightweight, packed with spices, this cold medicine soup is bound to pick you up too.

I paired it with some steamed and sautéed beets, tamil Brahmin style. You have to give it to our ancestors, they knew how to enjoy the good life. And food is such a big part..of life..Don’t you agree, people who enjoy and relish food, really live life!!

Finally a thought on protein since neither the soup, nor the rice, nor the beets are going to satisfy the protein brigade. If you have a guest that needs protein, then just cook some papad in the oven. I enjoy the crunchy texture of papad whenever I make soup.. it’s a must side.

Ingredients
2 cups water
1 tsp tamarind paste
Spice Mix
½ tsp Malabar black pepper pods(any black pepper will do)
1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
½ tsp coconut oil
Salt to taste
Pinch hing

Method
• Pound black pepper and cumin together. I like a texture, so pounding happens in my marble mortar & pestle
 20141120_174714• Mix tamarind paste with water

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• Heat coconut oil in pan. Add the crushed black pepper, cumin, hing and curry leaves to hot oil

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• Immediately pour the tamarind water into the pan.
• Add salt to taste and let come to boil
 20141120_182030• Remove from heat. Serve with rice

My sinuses got completely cleared. The healing and warming spices in the soup cleansed me. I’m now ready to fall asleep.

–charuyoga–

Vegan pad Thai

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Delicious, light, salt free, oil free, and yet nourishing. Is this possible!! Absolutely..this vegan pad thai has it all. No flour noodles. This pad thai is made from zucchini and carrot. I first had raw pad thai at Raw aura, a nice restaurant in port credit in Mississauga. I loved the raw flavours and wanted to make my own, but with variations of course.

No fancy equipment to make the noodles, just a julienne peeler. I went into the kitchen store in Mississauga expecting to buy a spiralizer, but walked out with a julienne peeler. Very happy with this purchase. Seeing how its now winter, I used warming spices like sesame.

20141119_200516My doctor says I have low B12 so I sprinkled some nutritional yeast. Thanks to Antonella for showing me this amazing food when I visited her in montreal, she’d make me salads tossed with NYeast.

My cholesterol has been high for a while now, and I’m just sick and tired of Lipitor, crestor and the entire statin family.. and how they cramp my system, not to mention my life. To get my body back into normal cholesterol functioning, I’ve been adding ground flax seed to foods every day. So of course into the noodles went some ground flax seed.

Protein is typically an ongoing issue for vegans, and being a new vegan myself, just a few months into gradually converting from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet.. I just love animals too much and realize its quite possible to live on an animal free diet. What it 20141118_192815means is that I have to be a little more conscious of adding the various food groups. Protein staves off hunger and what could be better than some chickpeas, I thought to myself. Better still sprouted chickpeas. Sprouts have the maximum energy possible as they are live and growing. So in went some sprouted chickpeas into my pad thai, adding nutrition and nice satisfying crunch.

I did add peanuts, but you can substitute with sunflower seeds, or almonds.

Ingredients
4 tbsp sprouted chickpeas
1 medium size zucchini
½ medium size carrot
Spice Mix
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 2 tbsp water
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
1 tsp ground flax seed powder
2 tsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp grated coconut
¼ tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp fresh cilantro
½ tsp brown sugar

Method
• Wash and dry zucchini and carrot. Using julienne peeler, make zucchini and carrot noodles. Mix with sprouted chickpeas. Set aside. Here’s how to make noodles using a julienne peeler.
• Mix tamarind paste with water, sugar, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, red chili flakes
• Mix spice mix with noodles, gently taking care not to break the noodles
• Sprinkle with roasted, coarsely crushed peanuts. I used my mortar and pestle to get that slightly uneven texture for more interest. I rubbed the peanuts in my hands after lightly roasting to remove the peel. If you want to go completely raw, omit the roasting.
• Stir in coconut and cilantro.
• Garnish with a slice of fresh lime.
• Voila! That’s it.
• ENJOY!!

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The #1 reason to visit an ashram

god is many
1.  Is it the freshly prepared, mostly organic, vegan food?
2. Could it be the hot singles you meet on the beach, if your ashram is on the ocean like mine is?
3. Could it be the really, really cheap room rate that makes it a cut above the all-inclusive resorts?
4. Could it be the proximity to the atlantis so you can party heavy all night long and oh-by-way pick up some girls/guys while you are at it?

Its actually none of the above. If you are truly interested in the #1 reason to visit an ashram then read on.

Yes dear reader, there’s more to it. Ashrams are an amazing place to connect your mind, body and soul. It’s the one place where you make a deep connection to yourself. And you also get away from the spinning material world, for maybe a few days or weeks, depending on how long you plan to stay.

The single most important, the only reason the # 1 reason ashrams were created was for people to disconnect from the constant chasing of material desires. To connect mind, body and soul. To take a break from the material and reconnect with our true essence, the spiritual. This connection to the spiritual lets us understand that we are all part of the whole world. And that we are all interconnected, to nature, to each other. When we become close to our natural self and are in tune with nature and her laws, we operate at a high frequency. We get to be more in touch with ourselves.

thought, word and deed
As we experience spiritual growth, we speak what we think, we do what we say. The 3, thought, word and deed line up. This is such a beautiful thing to see in others, and even more beautiful when we see it realized in ourselves. We become more attractive and others are drawn to our energy, our strength, the purposeful and joyful way in which we lead life..without fear, without inhibition. But its not a la la free spirited way of life without purpose.

Innocence & wisdom
Life becomes innocent, every moment is experienced fully, innocently like a child .. a joy as if its the first time. Along with increasing our innocence, our wisdom also increases. We realize our actions have impacts on others, and do our best to operate at nature’s vibrational frequency. Not hurting anyone with our actions. Being gentle and loving with the environment, with others, with ourselves.

High vibrational energy
Along with an increased sense of purpose, innocence, joy and wisdom, we are packed, simpIMG_4875ly charged with a high vibrational energy in an ashram visit. This helps us hugely in our return back to the material life. The hope that the spiritual masters had, was that this high charge that we gathered would help us when we are back in the world. It would help us make decisions with a clearer mind, it would help us simplify life, and lead life with renewed purpose, interest and joy!!

Hope you enjoyed reading my #1 reason for visiting an ashram. Feel free to add yours in the comments section.. In the next post I hope to share my suggestions for optimizing your ashram visit and at the end, I’ll just share what it is. That the spiritual masters suggest we learn from ashrams.

–charu yoga–

CharuYoga Detox Retreat – Laurentian mountains, Quebec

26-28 sepOne of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Canada. Dunany in Quebec, welcomes you to fall colours. Take time for yourself to detox, cleanse and recharge with a yoga detox retreat at CharuYoga Detox Retreat hosted by Charu Shankar.

Dunany is a small community in Wentworth, Quebec, Canada. It is located just over an hour’s drive west of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains.

Sweep your mind and body clean

To protect and maintain your body all year, but specially during the fall, Yoga recommends slowing down. Support your liver’s natural ability to remove toxins from the body. Take stock of the influences that you allow into your life—from the kind of food you eat to the amount of time you spend in front of an electronic device (computer, cell phone, TV).

Unlike some popular cleanses that ask you to undergo dramatic fasts or to take other extreme measures, CharuYoga detox is here to support instead of shocking your system.

Toxins are eliminated from the body through a balanced approach. CharuYoga detox uses a combination of yoga techniques to rejuvenate the body instead of stripping it down.

CharuYoga detox system of cleansing includes a simple and delicious vegetarian diet, yoga asanas, guided meditation, pranayama(breath work), facial scrubs, learning to cook a yogic all-in-one-meal, hikes in the forest and reflection.

During the cleanse, you’ll forgo substances and habits that contribute to liver overload—such as processed foods or alcohol—and the accumulated stress that strains your nervous system. In the company of other similar minded women, you’ll also spend time thinking about what influences you want to keep in your life and what you might want to let go. Suspending habits that don’t support your body or nervous system is the only way to create space for life nurturing practices. These life nurturing practices will keep illness at bay and give you that balanced mind and body and glowing skin to step out to meet winter in the right spirit.

10462407_10154525063045487_7914602078118229234_nThis package includes :

4 – 90 minute yoga classes
cottage accomodation
2 healthy dinners
2 healthy lunches
2 healthy breakfasts
Chai tea, herbal tea, fruits & nuts through the day
1 cooking demo all-in-one yogic meal
1 natural face scrub (hint : with sandalwood, rosewater, antioxidant turmeric, honey – this face scrub will exfoliate, cleanse and soften your skin)

IMG_2628You will not find this unbelievably incredibly low priced offering of $300 anywhere else. Its a one time offering for friends & family. sign up fast .confidently knowing you are getting the best value and price in the planet. Spots are filling up quickly. Sign up fast.
contact Charu at apsaraaliveyoga@gmail.com
or find us on facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ApsaraAlive

Liquid gold – clarified butter or ghee

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Ever tasted liquid gold? Seriously, I’m not kidding, if you haven’t you have to try it at least once. I made a batch of this smooth liquid gold for a big celebration. Its super easy to make. There are tons of health benefits in this golden smoothness that you cannot but want to include some of it in your diet everyday.

½ cup unsalted butter

Method

Place butter in heavy bottomed pan on medium high heat. Watch stove carefully, do not leave unattended.

When butter melts and starts to boil, reduce heat to medium and continue to watch while foam starts to form in the pan.

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As molten butter becomes golden and clear, you’ll start to see the milk solids separate. you’ll also hear in addition to the bubbling, crackling sounds.  Milk solids will settle to the bottom of the pan. Butter will turn to a clear golden liquid  Its no longer now the visual you are dependent on. Your sense of smell and the aroma of ghee will tell you its ready.

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Take off heat. Let cool for about 1/2 an hour. Then using a cheesecloth or fine tea strainer, strain the ghee to a clean and dry jar.

Don’t throw away the brown residue. I use the milk solids to add to my face mask and it makes for nice creamy and soft skin :)

Health benefits
Ghee is so good for you. Check out the many ways:
1. Storage
Ghee keeps really well. We’re talking upto 100 years. Seriously ghee does not spoil easily so don’t bother sticking your jar of ghee in the fridge.

2. Deep frying is no problem
With a high smoke point (250 °C  482 °F).You can cook and fry with ghee and it will not break down into free radicals like many other oils.

3. Great buttery taste without risk of dairy allergies
Sure ghee comes from butter, but because you melted it down with heat. You removed the milk solids and impurities. I know several friends who are lactose or casein intolerant who happily eat ghee no problem.

4. Nutritionally, it doesn’t get any better. magic like coconut oil. Weight loss too!
Rich in oil soluble vitamins, A D and E. and also rich in K2 and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – an antioxidant with anti-viral properties if it is sourced from grass fed cows. Ghee is converted directly into energy like carbohydrates. Rich in medium chain fatty acids which get absorbed directly to the liver (like carbs) and burnt as energy. Athletes can use ghee as a consistent energy source The energy from these medium chain fatty acids can be used to burn other fats in the system and lose weight.

5. Helps improve digestion and strengthens the immune system.
Just eating ghee does a lot. It improves your digestive tract too, makes it healthy. Research shows that adequate production of butyric acid supports the production of killer T cells in the gut, and thus a strong immune system.

6.  Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Cancer
Researchers are using butyrate supplements and butyrate enemas to treat inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.s and ulcerative colitis.  Ayurvedic physicians have been using ghee enemas for centuries to decrease inflammation.

7. Increases a strong Appetite
Ghee stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, thus aiding in the digestive process.so your better digestion means better health and weight loss.

8. Growing energy
Within Ayurveda, ghee is considered one of the most satvic foods. Satvic foods promote positivity, growth and expansion of consciousness. Pregnant women in india are given ghee to promote healthy growth of the embryo. My great grandmother used to spoon out ghee for my mother. She had a palatial ancestral home with hundreds of coconut trees, so she could have just as easily prescribed coconut oil for my mom, instead she relied on the goodness of ghee.

9. Positive energy
This might sound really out there but  Where does ghee get its positive energy from? It comes freely from cows. In India we consider cows holy, believe it or not because they take in tons of good energy from the environment. The milk they contains the essence of all those energies and ghee is the essence of the milk.

10. Lightly saute your spices in ghee.
Last but not least, Many of the medicinal properties of herbs and spices can be absorbed and transported to targeted areas of the body with ghee. That’s why whenever I cook ayurvedic meals, I lightly saute my spices in ghee, not only do my guests get an aromatic treat, but they are getting the medicinal benefits too! This is why Ayurveda uses ghee in thousands of different herbal preparation.
You can do the same thing by frying your kitchen spices in ghee before adding to your dishes.

here are more reasons http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-amazing-benefits-of-ghee.html

and some recipes to enjoy your valuable and delicious ghee Pongal

hope you enjoyed this recipe and the health benefits, including my personal experiences with ghee. Do comment below on what you think and if you’ve used ghee before, what you like about it.. Enjoy :)

-charuyoga-

Himalayan fennel swiss chard Creamed lentils

2014-07-31 17.32.21Himalayan mountains are not just heavenly. People who live in the mountains are very warm, hospitable and generous. Maybe it has to do with being so close to nature. Imagine sniffing pine leaves everyday or walking in woods or climbing up hills. Its got to bring out your inner cheer.

These swiss chard leaves and fennel fronds came from our workplace terrace garden planter What was I going to make? A facebook question to friends got so many creative responses, that it brought a smile to my face.

Since the past couple of days has been quite chilly, my mind kept returning to the mountains. Wayside stalls serve the tastiest dals and breads. My childhood vacation trips to the beautiful Himalayas are the inspiration for Himalayan fennel swiss chard creamed lentils.

1/2 cup yellow moong beans
1 cup washed and cut swiss chards, including stems
½ cup washed and cut fennel fronds
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
1 tomato, diced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Spice Mix
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 dry red hot pepper
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coconut oil
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

Method

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• Wash and drain moong beans thoroughly. Cover with 1 cup water and pressure cook till lentils are soft. Set aside to cool.

• Wash and cut fennel fronds into smaller bits, including tender stems. Wash and cut swiss chard into smaller bits, including stems. Cut onion, ginger, garlic, tomato. Set aside.

• Heat coconut oil in pan.

• Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the cumin seeds, onions, hot chili peppers, ginger, garlic and hing

• Stir everything till cooked and lightly brown.

• Add diced tomatoes and let everything cook.  Add turmeric powder.

• Add fennel fronds and swiss chard and saute till fennel is soft.

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• Mash up the cooked lentils till creamy and then add to the pan

• Stir everything together and let come to a boil. Take off stove.

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• Add salt to taste and freshly squeezed lime juice.

I served the Himalayan fennel swiss chard creamed lentils with chapati. Don’t worry if it isn’t a perfect round. its mountain food, so keep it simple, delicious, a bit carefree. I can even see it paired with steamed basmati rice for an equally satisfying meal. Doesn’t it look just YUM. and it was soo finger lickin’ good!! You have to try it. Remember : no fennel no worries, just use swiss chard, but if you have fennel, don’t throw away the fronds, they add a light and delicate flavouring..

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– charuyoga –